Appetito Foods – Olive Oils & Balsamic Vinegars

Appetito Foods – Olive Oils & Balsamic Vinegars

Appetito Foods is a local importer of olive oils and balsamic vinegars based in Providence, RI. Chef Joseph, Appetito Foods’ chief executive chef, travels to Europe in search of the world’s finest healthy foods for the company’s product line.

Appetito Foods is a local importer of olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

Appetito Foods is a local importer of olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

O2 is a premium organic extra virgin olive oil from the Naupaktia region of central Greece. It is a medium fruity olive oil whose aroma becomes clearer and more distinct as time passes.

O2 is a premium organic extra virgin olive oil from the Naupaktia region of central Greece.

O2 is a premium organic extra virgin olive oil from the Naupaktia region of central Greece.

Appetito makes their aged balsamic vinegars with traditional artisan techniques used for centuries in Modena, Italy. The grapes are pressed and reduced into syrup. It is then aged for 12 years in wooden barrels, rotating every two years to a new barrel made of a different wood. The balsamic vinegar comes in four gourmet flavors: Tradizionale and three infused fruit flavors – fig; pear; and cinnamon and pomegranate.

Appetito makes their aged balsamic vinegars with traditional artisan techniques used for centuries in Modena, Italy.

Appetito makes their aged balsamic vinegars with traditional artisan techniques used for centuries in Modena, Italy.

I received a sampling of the O2 olive oil and a bottle of Appetito’s Tradizionale aged balsamic vinegar. In addition to using the two as a dressing for various salads, I also used them in roasting cauliflower steaks.

Roasting cauliflower steaks with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Parmesan cheese.

Roasting cauliflower steaks with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Parmesan cheese.

After slicing the cauliflower into steaks, I drizzled it with olive oil and balsamic. Then, I sprinkled on some Parmesan cheese. Roast it in a 400-degree oven for 60 minutes (30 minutes covered with foil and the remaining 30 without). You know the steaks are cooked when they are fork tender.

The cauliflower steaks tasted amazing and made for a perfect side dish or you can use them on top of pasta.

The cauliflower steaks tasted amazing and made for a perfect side dish or you can use them on top of pasta.

I just love the caramelization created from the sugary balsamic vinegar. The steaks tasted amazing and made for a perfect side dish or you can use them on top of pasta.

Right now, Appetito Foods products are offered mostly in specialty food retail stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. You can purchase them online through their website.

 

Have you ever tried artisan olive oils or vinegars?

What’s your favorite flavor of balsamic vinegar?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of Appetito Foods products, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Feta

Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Feta

Each week as part of my CSA farm share, I come home with a sack full of “fresh from the farm” vegetables. Part of the fun in having the CSA is figuring out what to do with your weekly harvest. One of the easiest side dishes you can create with them is a medley of roasted vegetables. This method of cooking them in a very hot oven gives them a caramelized exterior, which brings out the sweetness of the vegetables, while keeping the inside moist and tender. This roasted eggplant and tomato with feta recipe can be a perfect side dish, or you can serve it as a vegetarian entrée on top of a bed of couscous, quinoa or orzo pasta.

Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Feta

Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Feta

 

Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Feta

1 large eggplant cut into 1” cubes

4 large plum tomatoes, cored and cut each into 8 equal-sized chunks

3 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. white wine vinegar

2 tbsp. dried parsley

2 tbsp. dried basil

1/3 c crumbled feta cheese (fat-free is okay to use)

Salt & black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place all ingredients except the feta cheese in a bowl and toss together.

Place all ingredients except the feta cheese in a bowl and toss together.

Place all ingredients except the feta cheese in a bowl and toss together.

Roast on parchment-lined baking sheet for 40 minutes.

Roast on parchment-lined baking sheet for 40 minutes.

Roast on parchment-lined baking sheet for 40 minutes.

Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with feta cheese. Serve warm. Yields 4-6 servings.

This recipe can be a perfect side dish, or you can serve it as a vegetarian entrée.

This recipe can be a perfect side dish, or you can serve it as a vegetarian entrée.

 

What’s your favorite summer “fresh from the farm” vegetable?

Have you tried roasting vegetables?

Santa Barbara Popcorn Company

Santa Barbara Popcorn Company

The gourmet popcorn business has been rapidly expanding partly because of the convenience snack factor and also due to the growth in varieties available. Whether your preference is for sweet or savory, traditional or non, there is probably a popcorn flavor for you.

Santa Barbara Popcorn began over a decade ago while Christopher Pollastrini was in college. Over the years, the now high school teacher has continued experimenting with original recipes and vetted them with family and friends. The popcorn is 90 to 100 percent organic, GMO- and gluten-free, vegan, whole grain and California grown. It also does not contain any artificial ingredients or trans fat.

Santa Barbara Popcorn Company

Santa Barbara Popcorn Company

Santa Barbara popcorn is hand made in small batches. They source their ingredients as close to home as possible. In fact, Pollastrini gets his kernels from a family-run organic corn farm in California. The popcorn comes in five main flavors: maple and brown sugar, honey Dijon, balsamic vinegar and Italian herb, jalapeno jack, and sea salt and olive oil. In the sampling I received, I also was provided with the cocoa and coffee, and cracked black pepper flavors.

Friends and family all enjoyed the tasty snack.

Friends and family all enjoyed the tasty snack.

I received an ample sized sampling of Santa Barbara popcorn in both the larger and smaller-sized bags.

SB PC 2

Santa Barbara popcorn comes in both the larger and smaller-sized bags.

Santa Barbara popcorn comes in both the larger and smaller-sized bags.

I had many try the flavors, bringing it to several venues, as well as lots of snacking here at home. Friends and family all enjoyed the tasty snack. Personally, I liked the non-sweet flavors, especially the sea salt and olive oil best.

Right now, Santa Barbara Popcorn is only sold in specialty stores in California.  You can purchase them online through their website.

Right now, Santa Barbara Popcorn is only sold in specialty stores in California. You can purchase them online through their website.

Right now, Santa Barbara Popcorn is only sold in specialty stores in California. You can purchase them online through their website.

 

Have you ever tried Santa Barbara Popcorn?

What’s your favorite popcorn flavor?

 

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of Santa Barbara Popcorn, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

Quick “Cowboy” Chicken Chili

Quick “Cowboy” Chicken Chili

Comfort foods can be perfect for the warmer summer months if you can find less time consuming versions that use a few “convenience foods” that save time but don’t sacrifice flavor (e.g., canned beans and tomatoes). This quick cowboy chicken chili recipe does just that. It can be a perfect entrée over rice, or it can be a great hamburger or hotdog topper.

Quick “Cowboy” Chicken Chili over brown rice

Quick “Cowboy” Chicken Chili over brown rice

Quick Cowboy Chicken Chili

1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped

1 tbsp. olive oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 lb. ground chicken

1, 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies, with liquid

1, 14.5 oz. can petite-diced tomatoes with liquid

6 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. cumin

1-cup reduced-sodium canned beef broth

2 cans pinto or kidney beans (low-sodium), rinsed and drained

2 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley

Salt & black pepper to taste

Add the olive oil to a medium-sized stockpot at medium heat. Once warm, add the onion and cook until soft. Add ground chicken and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon or potato masher until no longer pink. Add the chili powder and cumin and stir for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, broth, garlic, parsley and black pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 15-20 minutes. Add the beans and salt. Cook for another 5-7 minutes.

Top with your favorite – shredded cheddar cheese, sliced onions, or sour cream. This chili is a mild version. Feel free to spice it up to your taste by adding red pepper flakes or hot sauce. Yields 4-6 servings.

Top the chili with your favorite – shredded cheddar cheese, sliced onions, or sour cream.

Top the chili with your favorite – shredded cheddar cheese, sliced onions, or sour cream.

 

 

What’s your favorite summer comfort food?

Do you like your chili spicy or mild?

Double Chocolate Icebox Cake

Double Chocolate Icebox Cake

Many of us have a certain food or foods that conjures up fond memories. Something that just by it’s taste or smell can transport you back to your childhood. Recently, my husband and his family have been reminiscing about Grandma Flynn’s icebox cake. So when his milestone birthday came up, I decided to recreate the old fashioned treat with a few modern tweaks. This striped “cake” is a perfect dessert for summertime because it doesn’t require any baking or using the oven. Give it a try and see if it creates any special memories for your family!

Double chocolate icebox cake is a perfect dessert for summertime!

Double chocolate icebox cake is a perfect dessert for summertime!

 

Double Chocolate Icebox Cake

2 cups very cold heavy whipping cream

12 oz. cold mascarpone cheese

1/3 c sugar

3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

2, 9-ounce packages Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers

Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers cookies can be found in the grocery store.

Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers cookies can be found in the grocery store.

You will need a large bowl to make the whipped cream. I use the bowl from my electric stand mixer. Before starting, place the bowl in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. This will ensure everything stays cold during the mixing process. To assemble the cake, you will need an 8” spring form pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

Use the whisk attachment for your mixer (either stand or hand version). In the bowl, combine the cold heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla. Mix on low speed for a few seconds to combine the ingredients. Once combined, slowly raise the speed and continue mixing until the whipped cream forms into firm peaks.

To build the cake, arrange the chocolate cookies flat in the bottom of the pan. Cover the bottom as much as possible, breaking some cookies to fill in the spaces.

Arrange the chocolate cookies flat in the bottom of the pan.  Cover the bottom as much as possible.

Arrange the chocolate cookies flat in the bottom of the pan. Cover the bottom as much as possible.

Using an offset icing spatula, spread about a fifth of the chocolate whipped cream evenly over the cookies. The cream should be about half an inch thick. Place another layer of cookies on top, followed by another fifth of the whipped cream. Continue layering the cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, making sure to end with a cream layer. Smooth the top. Garnish it with chocolate chips, or if you want to get fancy you can top the cake with shaved chocolate.

Continue layering the cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, making sure to end with a cream layer.

Continue layering the cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, making sure to end with a cream layer.

Cover the cake (still in the spring form pan) with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or for 6-8 hours. The cookies will absorb the cream and soften slightly.

When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator. Run a sharp knife around the outside of the cake. Unlatch the side ring and remove it from the pan.

Double chocolate icebox cake is perfect for a summer birthday.

Double chocolate icebox cake is perfect for a summer birthday.

Cut in wedges and serve cold. Yields 8-10 servings.

From start to finish, double chocolate icebox cake is an easy summer dessert!

From start to finish, double chocolate icebox cake is an easy summer dessert!

 

 

Have you ever made an icebox cake?

Do you have a favorite food that takes you on a trip down memory lane?

Golden Girl Granola

Golden Girl Granola

Golden Girl Granola is a family granola business based in Shirley, MA. They sell their handcrafted granola in stores throughout the Northeast. Their mission is to provide a naturally healthful and deliciously crunchy product of the highest quality to customers.

Golden Girl Granola

Golden Girl Granola

Golden Girl Granola is whole-grain, locally produced and uses all-natural and locally sourced ingredients, whenever possible. This granola is wheat-free and gluten-free. It is handcrafted in small, artisan batches with the utmost care. There are seven flavors: Forest maple, creative cranberry, bluesberry, chocolate decadence, original, home sweet honey, and truly tropical. Each bag comes in a zip top packet so it is fresh and easy for storage and reuse.

I was offered the opportunity to compete in Golden Girl Granola’s blogger recipe challenge. Each participant received one packet of granola of his or her choice to cook with for free. Each participant must develop an original entrée recipe, using the granola. Recipes will be judged.

I chose the chocolate decadence flavor, which is made with maple syrup and baked with chocolate chips, sliced almonds and coconut flakes. With my granola, I developed a recipe for strawberry balsamic salad with chicken, feta and the chocolate granola. The flavor combination of the strawberries, chocolate, coconut and balsamic together with chicken and lettuce was bomb! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

 

Strawberry balsamic salad with chicken, feta and chocolate granola

1 head butter lettuce, washed and tear the leaves into pieces

1 radish very thinly sliced

1 english cucumber, peeled and chopped into chunks

12 oz feta cheese (you can use fat free) crumbled

Balsamic salad dressing

Breast of a rotisserie chicken, de-boned and chopped into chunks

1 quart of strawberries, washed and sliced

½ c Golden Girl chocolate decadence granola

All of the ingredients for the Strawberry balsamic salad have been prepped and ready for assembly!

All of the ingredients for the Strawberry balsamic salad have been prepped and ready for assembly!

Mix together all ingredients together, except the strawberries. Add the strawberries before serving and top with the salad dressing. Makes 4 – 6 servings.

Strawberry balsamic salad with chicken, feta and chocolate granola

Strawberry balsamic salad with chicken, feta and chocolate granola

Golden Girl Granola can be found in specialty markets and farmers’ markets throughout the Northeast, as well as you can buy it online. Here in Connecticut you can find it at Dog Lane Café in Storrs, Hall’s Market in West Hartford and Whole Foods Supermarket in Glastonbury. The 14-oz package retails for $7.50.

GGranola IMG_2439

 

 

Have you ever tried Golden Girl Granola?

Have you ever made an entrée recipe/dish using granola?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of Golden Girl Granola, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

Lemon Blueberry Pudding Cookies

Lemon Blueberry Pudding Cookies

As the summer heat starts to sizzle and you’re being asked to “bring a dessert” to the next gathering, you will be looking for something simple and that features the season’s flavors. Lemon blueberry pudding cookies are a great solution.

Lemon Blueberry pudding cookies

Lemon Blueberry pudding cookies

The recipe starts with a cake mix, which cuts down on several prep steps. Then it adds a box of pudding, making the cookies stay soft and chewy for days. Finally, nothing beats the sharp tang of lemon for a refreshing summer dessert and pairing it with seasonal blueberries makes for the perfect combination!

 

Lemon Blueberry Pudding Cookies

1 package of yellow or butter cake mix (any brand)

2 eggs (you can also use egg substitutes, which I did)

1 package of dry instant lemon pudding (sugar-free is okay to use)

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Zest of one lemon

1/3 c vegetable oil

½ c fresh blueberries, washed and dried

1/3 c powdered sugar

 

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, eggs, dry pudding, lemon juice, lemon zest and vegetable oil. If you have a stand mixer, use it and make it even easier on yourself. Scrap down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing until all the ingredients are incorporated. The batter will be smooth, but stiff.

Gently fold the blueberries into the batter. Be careful not to break open the blueberries or it will turn the batter green.

Scoop the cookies out in tablespoon-sized dollops. Place the powdered sugar in a small shallow bowl. Dip the tops of the cookie dough dollops into the powdered sugar and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. They don’t spread much while baking.

The cookies are ready to be baked in the oven.

The cookies are ready to be baked in the oven.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes. Before removing from the oven, check the bottom of the cookies to see if they are a light brown. If not, continue baking until that point.

Remove the cookies from the oven and keep them on the warm baking sheet for 1 minute.

Lemon blueberry pudding cookies ares a perfect finger dessert for spring or summer and transports well for picnics and cookouts.

Lemon blueberry pudding cookies ares a perfect finger dessert for spring or summer and transports well for picnics and cookouts.

Remove the cookies from the baking sheet to a cooling rack and allow cooling completely.  Store in an airtight container. Yields 18-24 cookies.

The cookies have a glazed, glossy top from the powdered sugar melting during baking. The inside of the cookie will be soft and chewy from the dry pudding in the batter. It’s a perfect finger dessert for spring or summer and transports well for picnics and cookouts.

 

Have you ever made cookies that use a cake mix and dry pudding?

What’s your favorite “finger dessert” to bring to picnics or cookouts?